Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Girls

From left to right S, C, my mom, me and then M, E and Jeanne (in black).

This is a picture of us girls (minus CA) at the beach when E and M were little.  I love all the smiles.  I love E putting her hands on her mom's shoulders. Jeanne is still alive. My mom is healthy.  E and M are still innocent, happy little girls.  We're relaxed and happy and at peace.


I talked before here about how my faith has been pretty rocked to its core.  I was raised Catholic and we're raising our kids the same...Catholic school and all that.  We go to church on Sundays as a family.  I wouldn't call K and I "pick and choose" Catholics, but I have definitely approached my religion with an intellectual, rational manner.  There are many things I disagree about with the Church (homosexuality for starters), but they aren't things that have made me want to change course with our spiritual life as a family.

I don't know how to describe what my relationship with God is right now.  I sometimes wonder whether it's all a bunch of hooey.  When people say they're praying for me and our family it doesn't move me or make me think that those messages to God will have any effect on our lives.  I wish I had the spiritual fortitude to help me get through this.  Maybe it would bring me a sense of peace which would take the edge off a bit.

The one thing I do know now, though, is why people believe in heaven.  The thought of my sister simply not "being" is absolutely devastating.  I drive by the cemetery several times a day.  When I let my mind wander and go to that awful space in my head where I imagine her in that coffin, under the ground, all chest tightens, the lump forms in my throat and I physically hurt.  I remember during the burial those final moments when I simply could not walk away.  I didn't want to leave her there.  I didn't want to imagine my life without my big sister.  My Zhea.

But maybe there is a heaven.  It's not that I have this need so that "one day we'll be reunited."  I can't accept that Jeanne's gone. I need to think that somewhere, somehow she still "is."  She's watching me and her little girls.  She's looking out for my little boys.  She's laughing with Mike about how we're worrying about stuff that doesn't really matter and that she's got all the answers.  I want to know that she's not in pain or scared or worried.  If heaven means that, then I guess part of me believes.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Ripple Effect

Sitting within the epicenter of profound loss, I've noticed that the impact of that tragedy can be far reaching and unforeseen.

Many of the negative effects have been fairly predictable while others have not. Our kids' loss of innocence and fears could have been anticipated, but the same worries have also permeated the homes of cousins on my husband's side of the family and some of the kids' friends in the neighborhood, on their teams and in school.  These kids now know in a real way that mommies and daddies can die.  Friends of mine have either stepped up or, more often than not, stepped away not knowing how to deal with the new Peg...tired, sad, negative and consumed by the complexity of this new life.  The strain on relationships within my family has been unpredictable and I think many people would be surprised to know how this tragedy has in many ways caused additional loss and pain in our family rather than bringing us together.  This has definitely not been an after school special where everything is tide up in a nice bow at the end of the hour.

Positive things have come from the accident.  Many people have come up to me to tell me how Jeanne and Mike's lack of planning have made them write a will and make financial plans for their family's future.  The county has investigated how they can change things on the road where the accident happened, so cars can't cross over lanes and similar accidents can be avoided.  One of Jeanne's friends actually quit her job to spend more time at home with her children.  Numerous people have come together in the last two years to help our family and this makes them feel good about themselves. In talking about our loss with people openly and directly, I hope I have helped others understand how to approach people going through loss and what NOT to say.  Strangely (from my perspective at least), people have told me that seeing me and our nuclear family go through this and still get on with life, laughing and loving each other, has reaffirmed their faith and given them hope.

The loss has given me this blog.

A terrible accident caused a giant splash in our little world. Circular waves of both positive and negative exploded from the surface impact. As time passes, the ripples have slowed and diminished in force...causing people to forget, feel better, move on.  I still feel stuck in the loss.  Rather than moving on with the currents, I'm tied to the pain which pulls me downward below the surface. The accident permeates my thoughts each and every day.  Flashes of memory. Wondering if they were in pain and knew what was happening. Imagining what the girls must have felt when we told them. Wishing I can turn back time.

I sink beneath the weight of grief.  I wonder if and when this will end.  My love for my sister sometimes makes me wish it won't.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


Please be patient with me oh you wonderful, supportive readers.  I have been unbelievably busy.  When I do have time to write here, I've been too physically and emotionally exhausted.  I have been so tired this week, I actually considered paying my therapist to let me sleep for our usual hour.  I bribed L with new games on my Nook on Sunday afternoon if he would stay cozy with me under the covers and play the games while I took a 20 minute power nap.  It was bliss.

Why the extra fatigue this week?  Here's the laundry list:

1.  Last week K went to Park City, Utah with our college friends.  I could have gone, but it just wasn't feasible.  He left Thursday afternoon and was back Monday afternoon.  I missed him. The kids missed him.  It was four days of being the only adult in the house.  It's times like these that I notice the stuff he does around here that I guess I take for granted (taking the garbage out, doing the dishes).  Since he's been home, though, we've been a bit disconnected.  My lingering resentment.  His difficulty in jumping back into the real world.  I want him to be happy.  I encouraged him to go.  I just wish he felt a little guilty or better yet, had chosen not to go at all.

2.  While on single parent duty over the weekend, we had 2 basketball games, 2 soccer games, 1 cheer game, 1 championship high school swim meet, 2 basketball picture days and 1 12 year old birthday (family party and kid party).  Throw in there homework, church and basic care for 5 kids and it was certainly a hectic time.

3.  See number 2.  It was M's 12th birthday on Friday.  This included treats for the 6th grade, birthday presents, dinner out and cake back at home.  On Sunday I threw a friend birthday party for 10 kids which included a scavenger hunt at the mall, team t-shirts, goodie bags and festivities back at home.  She had a great time.  One of her friends stayed around to watch the super bowl and didn't get picked up till 8:45.  On a school night.  Fun had by all = very tired mommy.

4.  D has continued to implode.  He screamed for 10 minutes in the car on Friday afternoon that all we cared about was M and that we didn't love him anymore.  He was in my bed Friday and Saturday night and slept on the floor next to our bed on Monday.  I had to pick him up from school early on Tuesday.  He cried for 30 minutes yesterday not wanting to go to soccer practice.  We're taking some steps try to get him back on even keel.  We're letting him decide about not playing baseball this spring and we decided to give him his own family birthday party instead of sharing with M.  Small steps to give him some control in a situation where he's had none.  My poor little boy.

5.  All five of the kids have been craving attention more and more.  It's like they all realize that this is real all of the sudden and need constant affirmation.  Even E, who as a 15 year old should know better, starts to ratchet up the antics (fake illnesses, injuries, yelling) until the attention inevitably has to shift even if it's just me telling whoever it is to take a chill.  L has been ridiculously clingy.  I actually put him in timeout tonight for not giving mommy any personal space.  Having an almost five year old saddled to you all day is exhausting.

6.  This next thing deserves an entire post in itself.  The facilitated meeting with CA was awful.  I was absolutely spent emotionally for days after the meeting.  I don't even know where to start in trying to explain what happened.  One of the things that came out of the meeting was that CA was going to try to communicate better.  This has resulted in a deluge of text messages about ridiculous things, but not actually anything of import.  The lies embedded in these texts are especially upsetting.  Hashing it all out with my little sisters, K, dad and therapist has left me shaky and weary.

7.  All this extra stress has left me a physical mess.  My stomach is constantly queasy and at least twice a day my bowels turn to a liquid mess.  When not much is getting in and whatever does shoots out the other end, my energy levels have been less than stellar.  Oh and the hives...stress wreaks havoc on one's body.

But please be patient with me.  I'm trying to be patient with myself.  I have a lot of great posts forming in my mind....a song comes on bringing the tears or smiles, a friend reaches out just when needed, two 11 year olds dance arm in arm to a silly song of their own invention...the words form in clusters in my befuddled mind.  One of these days I'll get them out.